In all the previous posts until now, we have read the first part of Metta Sutta to learn the pre-requisites for success in this practice. One may then wonder, “what is the benefit of this practice?” As promised, we shall take a short break to learn about the benefit of Metta and we shall reference another sutta for that.
Metta (Mettanisamsa) Sutta: Discourse on Advantages of Loving-kindness(AN 11.16), translated from the Pali by Piyadassi Thera. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 13 June 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an11/an11.016.piya.html .
11 Benefits of practicing Metta
1. One sleeps in comfort
Without aversion in our heart but filled with soft kindness instead, we feel contented and simple. We feel grateful and happy to rest. In a way, we sleep like a baby who is not troubled by a scheming mind. As highlighted in our past 8 posts on Metta, the pre-requisites for successful practice is to be a simple, easy-going person who has a loving and kind nature. When we become such a person, our mind contains no evil and we rest easily. Not troubled by bad dreams. Since our mind has a direct influence over our body, we breathe lighter and sleep better too. Not to mention, deep sleep induce body repair and better health too (both mental and physical health) Convinced yet?
2. One awakes in comfort
Following from benefit one, we wake up refreshed. Since our sleep is not troubled by evil thoughts and dreams, we feel happy and light-hearted when we wake up. Have you experience waking up with joy in the heart and the day ahead feels so promising and wonderful? That is a very good way to start our day isn’t it. So you see, that is cause and effect here. Going to bed with Metta in our mind is the cause, waking up refreshed and light is the effect! Buddhism can be simple, we just have to do it. Try it tonight. Make yourselves feel simple and contented. A little bit of letting go and resting. A pleasant mind that is loving and kind. Then gradually drift off to slumber land……
3. One sees no evil dreams.
Most of our dreams are driven by our subconscious. When we practice Metta during the day, we actually protect ourselves from negativities. Nasty people and situations do not create a huge impact on us. Our mind is like the lotus leaf that repels water. We simply let bad things slide off us. In this way, we do not allow bad experience to create a deep impression. Naturally, nightmare reduces…. (For those who recite Praises to 21 Tara, I always think Tara represents loving kindness) See if you can connect the dots from this sutta to the praises……
4. One is dear to human beings.
Basically, Metta makes us a nice person to be around with. We are not demanding but easy going. We do not have harsh words for people and practice kindness. We are not haughty or self-entitled. We are considerate and thoughtful. The vibe we generate around us is peaceful. Naturally, we attract people like a magnet.
5. One is dear to non-human beings.
In Buddhism, we acknowledge the existence of various beings. Some are visible to human eyes while some are not. Animals and insects are visible. It is said that birds and tiny animals do not scurry away from a Metta practitioner. This is because they do not sense danger. Imagine the Snow White in Walt Disney animation. For monks who reside in the forest or jungle, Metta is a tool for their survival because animals attack when threatened. Many monks recounted harrowing experience with the wildlife and how they live peacefully with them. Besides animals, Buddhist also believe the existence of various supernatural beings. Metta helps to make us dear…..
6. Devas (gods) protect him.
The correct way to associate with celestial gods and goddesses is by practicing loving kindness. You cannot seriously believe that they (the celestial folks) would be bought by our offerings of earthly material right? I mean what is a few apples or a slaughtered lamb to them? If gods crave our offerings, then heaven wouldn’t be much better than Earth. (logical?) Not to mention our off-key singing / chanting of praises and hymns….. According to Buddha, when we practice Metta, we obtain the favor of higher beings. So let us be kind and not be nasty in gods’ name.
7. Fire, poison, and sword cannot touch him.
Literally it means you become superman and wonder women! It is hard to believe but in Thailand, there are numerous reports about Metta infused Buddha images that protect their owner from harm. Yes, even gun shot.
But before, we get carried away, let us try a more grounded approach. Remember Buddhism is most concerned about protecting our mind. When we die, our mind will be reborn again. If our mind is filled with anger, hatred and revenge, then we will be reborn in bad situations. If we have Metta in our heart, then fire, poison and sword cannot touch us. Our mind will maintain its peacefulness and tranquility. This is very important for a good rebirth.
In summary, there are many miraculous story about Metta protecting people from harm. And if one’s karma is too heavy to escape physical retribution, then Metta will still protect our mind if not our physical body.
8. One’s mind can concentrate quickly.
I once participated in a meditation retreat with a competitive mind. I was anxious to attain “something” before anyone else. Naturally, no matter how hard I try or force myself to sit, nothing happened. Then I gave up and mentally said. “May all other participants gain enlightenment before me. May they be well and happy.”
That’s when my mind finally stilled.
When we love others, we give up ourselves. When there is no self, we are one step closer to enlightenment. And don’t think too much about how we are going to express our love for others. We are not training to be actors. As the slogan goes. Love is Love.
9. One’s countenance is serene.
Put simply, we obtain that “Buddha face”. We look serene and peaceful, without worry and anger. According to one of my teacher, this is because our emotion affects our facial muscle and over a period of time, our face will reflect what is in our mind. And beyond that, Metta also influence the way we behave or act. All this contribute to our appearance. Thus the best cosmetic is Metta.
10. He dies without being confused in mind.
What is Buddhism without talking about some hard truths right? That “D” word many people avoid. One of the meditation master describe death as similar to falling asleep. Except that we wake up in a different world and body. Some wake up in heaven and some in bad places.
It is important for us to die peacefully and without confusion. Referring to point 1 to make it simple. Enter death like we enter our sleep (with Metta), then we will awake in better state. Naturally, if we spend our entire life being evil, then do not expect the mind can be peaceful at that critical moment.
It is said that we are actually practicing our death every night. (something deep for us to reflect, yah?)
11. If he fails to attain arahantship (the highest sanctity) here and now, he will be reborn in the brahma-world.
According to Buddhist teachings, there are numerous heavens. When we practice Metta, we will be reborn in heaven. Not only that. We also get to the poshest heaven district up there!
This conclude the 11 benefits of Metta practice.
May all be well and happy